Why Spider-Man Is Still Known In Ant-Man 3 (Despite No Way Home)

The Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania trailer proves that Spider-Man is still known in the MCU, even after the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home. There’s plenty to digest in the trailer, including the formal silver screen introduction of Jonathan Majors’ Kang via the quantum realm after his machinations in Disney+’s Loki. However, one stray mention of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man stands out, thanks to his somewhat mysterious status in the MCU. At the end of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Peter Parker lets Doctor Strange wipe the memories of everyone who knows his identity as a sacrifice to keep them safe. However, the Ant-Man 3 trailer highlights that Spider-Man still exists as a reference point for everyday people, despite this spell.

In a coffee shop, a character played by Ruben Rabasa (recognizable as the scene-stealing bottle flip guy from the Netflix sketch show I Think You Should Leave) says « Thank you, Spider-Man! » as Ant-Man exits. This scene has prompted some discussion; is this just a throwaway in-joke for audiences, or is it a deeper hint that the spell cast at the end of No Way Home was not as successful as Peter Parker and Doctor Strange believed? The spell’s success was almost certainly preserved. The confusion might derive from the fact that it was the memory of Peter Parker as Spider-Man that was erased by the spell, not Spider-Man himself. No Way Home’s ending implies that, although he is without any Stark technology to help him, Peter returns to being a good old-fashioned neighborhood Spider-Man. The Ant-Man 3 trailer suggests that he still has a name for himself in-universe, even if no one is aware that it’s Peter Parker behind the mask.

Although released 14 months after No Way Home in the real world, there is no confirmation of when precisely Ant-Man 3 is set quite yet. However, the upcoming movie’s events presumably take place after No Way Home given that film largely being the catalyst for the MCU Multiverse saga. No Way Home is set around the franchise’s version of late 2024, just over a year after Avengers: Endgame’s blip back, so it stands to reason Ant-Man 3 takes place at some point after that.

Doctor Strange’s spell erased everyone’s memory of Peter Parker as Spider-Man, but not that he as an anonymous superhero exists in some form. No Way Home established this during its epilogue when J. Jonah Jameson was still reporting on Spider-Man after the spell was cast. Also, at Aunt May’s grave, Peter encounters Happy Hogan. Although Hogan explains that he knew May through Spider-Man, he does not recognize Peter.

There have been other hints at Spider-Man’s current standing prior to the Ant-Man 3 trailer. In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Strange mentions, « an incident with Spider-Man » without referencing Peter. In the run-up to the likely Spider-Man 4 with Holland, it is neat that Marvel is intent on preserving his presence in the MCU, even if it is through just a wry throwaway line or two. « Thank you, Spider-Man! » works as a funny one-liner in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania but also as a reminder of the character’s status following Spider-Man: No Way Home.